Angelic #5 by Simon Spurrier and Caspar Wijngaard takes the very cool idea of cyborg animals in the future and makes you feel very bad about it. Previous issues have already established that these animals are rather malicious save for the protagonist Qora and her unnamed “mans” friend, but with the mystery behind this crazy future now fully out in the open, it’s hard to look at Emma Price’s alluring character and world designs and not see the pain felt by these characters.
The hints this book gives at what the old world was like aren’t hard to figure out for any reader, what with us all living in that same world. In the world of Angelic, words and phrases were chopped up or morphed into mystical rhetoric, an example being the “monks” seeing the cyborg “mans” use of wi-fi as a kind of witchcraft. The emotional charge behind these moments, which are the heart of the storytelling in this series, is exactly that: watching these creatures live their misguided lives when we all know better. So when the origin of how this world came to be was finally laid out in this month’s issue, it wasn’t the reveal that pulled at any emotions, but watching Qora and her friend finally learn what many today believe to be true: humans are trash.
Thought to be divine beings they know as “Makers” an old-timey film reel of the humans’ post-war agenda reveals how they enslaved and modified helpless animals to be used as weapons against an artificial intelligence: no surprise to the average Terminator fan, but a hit to the gut for these members of the idealist “mans” and “monk” groups. This issue has quite a few pages where Wijngaard ditches the book’s soft pinks and blues for an extended look at the grim world that came before, making the heart beg the question of which civilization was really dystopian. Sure, the mans and monks go to war, but human involvement adds a real risk that was also only hinted at before now.
The issue also introduces a pack of ghastly cyber-cats that seem more like zombies held together by machinery. Jim Campbell’s lettering technique for these creatures is a bit confusing at points, though that is admittedly the goal. All creatures in this series speak a kind of broken English, but for the cats, Campbell pairs this speech with a mix of letters in what seems to be every font under the sun. What was probably meant to reference to the creatures’ deteriorated psyches instead just looks kind of messy.
Angelic #5 is beautifully written and drawn, though some awkward lettering techniques are noticeably out-of-place in its otherwise smoothly rendered world. If you haven’t been following this series, it might be worth waiting for the trade at this point, but if you’ve been checking in month to month wondering when things were really gonna kick off, consider them kicked. If you want to feel bad about the idea of animal-driven warfare, you can pick this issue up for $3.99.
(W) Simon Spurrier (A/CA) Caspar Wijngaard